Forgiveness or Forbearance
Patricia endured a long marriage filled with torment punctuated with confusing moments of kind gestures. She did her best to shrug off the torment and appreciate the good times. Early in her marriage she decided that if she could not tame her abuser then she would need to devise her own way of dealing with him.
Patricia is not an especially confrontational lady, in fact she is quite the opposite. When her abuser threatened to leave her for a feigned offense or refused to speak to her for cutting her hair she did not fight back. She thought she was doing the right thing when she stuffed her emotions and pretended that everything was OK. It is not that she never attempted to approach her abuser but when she did it proved to be so unproductive and so painful that she decided it simply was not worth the effort. So she stuffed. She pretended it did not hurt. She pretended she felt no anger. Then she stuffed some more and put a smile on her face and sunk into ever deeper depression.
Patricia finished her second glass of Malbec before she launched into her funny ways of dealing with the pain in her marriage.
"I was convinced that I should never hate my husband, no matter what he did. When he went on a rage, came home smelling like sex and alcohol, or humiliated me at a social gathering I would mentally write the offense on a slip of paper and then drop it into the fireplace. I pretended like the offense was gone.
Of course the offense was not gone. Offenses need to be acknowledged, discussed, and then forgiven to be truly gone. I needed to be able to discuss the offenses with my abuser and see that he was committed to changing. That never happened. We did not deal with our conflict because disagreement was not allowed. We never fought, we never reconciled our differences. I stuffed and that worked well for my abuser for a good long time.
Naturally all that stuffing took its toll on me. I sunk deeper and deeper into depression, developed a pattern of stress induced migraines, suffered nightmares, and general anxiety. I was miserable but my abuser was not willing to admit to any marital distress.
I began referring to my marriage as a perfect Triple A union. It was a tri-union of adultery, abuse, and alcohol with no visible way of escape. My abuser was committed to the mantra that a woman should not express thoughts, feelings, opinions. He claimed that no man wanted to hear the drivel! So I stuffed and stuffed.
When I finally left my abuser I had to begin the journey of discovering the power of forgiveness. First I had to figure out what forgive is not and then I defined what forgiveness is.
Patricia describes her journey of forgiveness as a long, soul searching process. She had to shut out the voices that screamed at her to say the words, "I forgive you," and pretend that everything was OK. Simply mouthing the words was not enough. Forgiveness takes time and determination. A full ten years into her journey Patricia discovered that:
1. Forgiveness is loving in spite of what is said or done.
2. Forgiveness is choosing to not punish.
3. Forgiveness is choosing not to hold a record of wrongs.
4. Forgiveness is choosing to give mercy.
The Journey Continues
Patricia has been on a long journey of forgiveness. Her journey began with twenty years of forbearance and is finally ending with forgiveness It has been a layer upon layer process of acknowledging the abuse that happened, the pain she felt, and the need to forgive. Patricia smiles when she confesses that the first forgiveness breakthrough happened when she came to understand that forgiveness does not demand trust or reconciliation. "I can relax, be safe, and work my way through the layers on my time. My future looks bright, " she smiles. "Now may I have that dinner your promised?"
What Forgiveness Is Not
- What Forgiveness Is Not
Forgiveness is a long a painful journey but it is worth the effort. These hubs describe one woman's long journey of forgiveness.